Q. Do you consider that the Upanishadic principles embody the high point of Vedic religious thought? Comment. [UPSC-2021]
The Vedas taught worship of the god of nature, such as the sun, wind, sky, fire, Usha. The Upanishads emphasized that behind the façade of these many gods, there is but one supreme god. In fact, the concept of one universal god was also originally expressed in the Rig Veda itself:
“Ekam sad vipra bahudah vadanti” (One alone exits; sages call it by various names)
But in the Upanishads this ancient philosophical thoughts came to the forefront, overshadowing the idea of multiple gods who were considered simply as the manifestation of the transcendental supreme divine.
In each of the Vedas, there are two main divisions:
- The Karma Kanda, deals with the rituals and
- the Jnana Kanda, deals with knowledge and wisdom.
The samhitas and the brahmanas represent mainly the Karma Kand and the ritual portion while the Upanishads chiefly represent the Jnana Kand or the knowledge portion.
Mundaka Upanishad states that the knowledge is of two types:
- Lower knowledge (Apparavidya) which deals with the secular knowledge of Grammar, sciences, rituals, astrology etc.
- Higher knowledge (Parvidya) which deals with divine and spiritual knowledge. It is more concerned with the inner spiritual transformation of man than with only the book knowledge which is considered to be the lower knowledge.
The early Upanishads (Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya) relied strongly on the rituals used to interpret the spiritual knowledge. The later Upanishads became more and more liberated from the rituals, however, moving towards internal processes of meditation and personal religious experiences. External rituals were subordinated to internal spiritual practices called sadhanas. ©selfstudyhistory.com